Caregiver Support and Resources to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver Support, When the Caregiver Needs Care

When the Caregiver Needs Care

Who can you turn to when your caregiver responsibilities leave you frustrated, and then feeling guilty on top of it? “That’s what caregiver support groups are for,” says Sallie Carlin, executive director of Willow Gardens at United Hebrew of New Rochelle, a comprehensive geriatric care center in Westchester County, NY.

“A support group is a safe, confidential setting where you can feel comfortable saying anything you want,” says Carlin. “Forming relationships, and even friendships, with other caregivers helps you to understand that you’re not the only one going through this.”

Research has shown that learning caregiving strategies can improve the health of caregivers themselves. The Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) clinical trial, for example, found that caregivers who received guidance in managing their caregiving responsibilities showed a significant improvement in their overall quality of life, as well as lower rates of clinical depression.

Noticing the signs of caregiver burnout is important, but realizing that you may need a support group is the first step in getting help. Not everyone is willing to admit that though, says Brian Carpenter, professor of psychology in Washington University’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

“Be humble about what you know and what you don’t know,” says Carpenter. “If you’re facing new challenges, you may understandably not have the skills, resources, or knowledge that you need. You may also be feeling stressed, tired, and depressed because of the changes in your life. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.”

Online support groups are helpful to reduce caregiver stress and for those who are unable to find or take part in a face-to-face support group, or just crunched for time. But the experience of meeting in person with others who are in a similar situation can be particularly beneficial, says Carpenter.

“There is a level of connection when you’re in the same room with the same people with the same challenges that you don’t get online,” he explains. “There is a deeper understanding that can come from actually seeing the other person, and an emotional connection and honesty you can get from reading someone’s facial expression or body language. The conversation is often more spontaneous and free-flowing as well.”

In-person caregiver support groups offer the added benefit of giving caregivers the opportunity to get away from their responsibilities, if only for a short time. “That in itself has mental and physical benefits,” says Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, whose own mother is taking care of both her 104-year-old mother and her 83-year-old husband.

“She was feeling isolated,” says Milner of his mother. “Just having an outlet to vent and to learn has been highly valuable.”

Other benefits of a “real world” support group include gaining a sense of control, learning coping skills for caregivers, understanding what to expect of both your situation and that of your loved one, and receiving practical advice about community resources.

Help for caregivers exists, and there are many types of caregiver support groups out there; some are for caregivers in general, others focus on specific illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, etc. They may be organized by another caregiver, or by a hospital, mental health association, or advocacy association. They may be peer-led, or run by a healthcare professional such as a nurse or social worker. Some are structured and are more educational in nature, offering information on a particular illness, community resources, etc. Others focus more on emotional support. And many are a combination of the two.

To find a support group:

Keep in mind that caregiver help and support comes in many forms. “You can attend a formal support group, but it’s also important to keep a supportive network of people around you,” says Colin Milner. “Even getting together with friends who are going through the same thing to compare notes over a glass of wine is helpful.

“The biggest challenge of being a caregiver,” Milner continues, “is taking care of yourself. If you can’t function, caregiving becomes an extremely difficult task. Do whatever you have to do to get support. And don’t forget to provide support as well. There is something very energizing about sharing what you know.”

For more information on caring for yourself, check out our other articles on the topic, like Getting the Most Out of An Online Support Group and 7 Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Burnout.

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Tagged with: burnout, caregiver, online support groups, respite, support groups

8 thoughts on “Caregiver Support and Resources to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

    June 6, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Caregiver burnout is a real thing. If you, as a caregiver, become exhausted,frustrated even sick from this over use of body,mind and soul, it can play havoc on your ability to be a good caregiver. You can prevent it from even getting to this point. Take a break. Walk away from the frustrations, accept help, even a few hrs daily, freshens the spirit !

    Social groups, Private caregivers and Support groups are all ways to help our loved ones through a very difficult situation. The key though, is recognizing the need for help and most importantly, accepting it.

  2. Anonymous
    March 7, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Very tiresome, I’m feeling unimportant myself

  3. Mark Dallas Parker
    March 7, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Not quite sure what to say other than thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m most definitely going to look into some kind of assistance before I fail( which is absolutely not a remote option) at the biggest and most important task I’ve ever been up against. The enormity of effort, dedication , and responsibility required in making this decision entails one hundred times more than I could have remotely phathomed. What really strikes me the deepest about this mind boggling situation I’ve put myself at the helm of is that once committed, there’s no turning back or at least as far as my heart and soul are concerned. My mother and l have an incredible relationship and we’ve been through so much together which really helps when I need that extra push to reassure that I’ve got this…..I’m on it and nothing is going to alter our path. When I say we’ve got an incredible relationship it’s truly an understatement and I honestly think that only one in a million could remotely even begin to imagine how fortunate I’ve been to have been raised by such an amazing and loving woman. Our journey began July 4th 1960 when I was born in Houston Texas but really only took flight ( literally) 5 years later when she was 23 and freshly divorced from an abusive husband ( my biological father ) that after breaking her eardrum with a slap, she heeded the advice of her doctor that told her he hadn’t seen anything like this since the war and that if she didn’t leave him she could end up dead. Her first love, the love of her life, the one you’ll always love, let her down and with a broken heart she had the strength to cross the pond in search of a better life for both of us. First stop was Algiers, second Lake Lucerne, and third….. being the lucky number, was Rome Italy. After being dragged to a party unwillingly by one of her cousins that lived there, she met her second true love and Prince in shinning armour. An incredibly wonderful man with the most respectable morals and class that could have had just about any woman but he picked my mom and we began a life we could never have dreamed of. On their 1st date he even showed up on a white horse in the for of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport which my mom could have cared less for but it certainly got my attention and especially the way he drove it. After courting my mom for what seemed like an eternity, we finally moved in together and started a life that is still resemblant of a dream in my eyes and heart to this day. He treated me like a son from the get go and likewise I accepted him with the upmost honor as my father. His work as an economist for a consulting firm gave us the opportunity to live in 8 different countries and travel to countless others. Out of the eight languages I once spoke, I’m fortunate to have retained three fluently and having this ability and having had all this knowledge of living in different cultures has been a huge asset in my life that I’ll be forever grateful of. Unfortunately he passed in 1979 at the tender age of 62 and I can’t even begin to explain the pain that will always linger in my heart for him but I make him proud everyday and this really helps me in finding peace. My mom was obviously devastated as well from his sudden passing and not to long after that my grandmother on my mom’s side got sick and my mother immediately returned to Houston to take care of her and be with her for several years until she passed. It was shortly thereafter that I believe my mother started deteriorating inside which has now led to dementia and has put me in the caring seat. As in all stories we all certainly know that the endings are not always happy and life can be very cruel also. However, having said that and accept it as best possible, there is something I just really can’t come to grips with and what I’m referring to is GREED. As if caring for my mom and noticing some signs of deterioration and doing everything I can to make each day count for her,,,,, I have 4 miserable individuals that cannot wait for my mom to pass so they can get a piece of the pie. This is what is truly eating away inside me and the hardest part of dealing with the matters at hand. I just can’t come to grips with this mentality and is really the hardest thing for me to deal with and the first thing I’m going to get help with. So sorry for rambling on like this but I felt like I had to get it out and in doing so has actually helped a little.
    Thank you for running this advertisement and I’m so appreciative I came across it. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and here it is.
    Sincerest regards and my heart goes out to everyone else dealing with grief of any and all natures.
    Mark Parker

    1. Anonymous
      March 31, 2018 at 12:39 am

      I enjoyed the read.

  4. Linda
    March 14, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    I appreciate your feelings. I feel that I ham facing a similar situation with siblings. I am finding it difficult to decide on a course of action. Take heartnthoughts are with you.

  5. Aquavion Allen
    March 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm


  6. Alyce
    March 22, 2018 at 1:51 pm


  7. Linda Fritch
    June 16, 2018 at 2:14 am

    In 2016 my husband became a double amputee. It was the hardest thing we had gone through at this point. When they sent him home to me to take care of it was overwhelming. I had to learn everything. I was not a professional nurse but a professor. It has been two years and I get so stressed mentally over this loss in our lives. My life stopped with his. Now, he is getting memory issues. I try to take it one day at a time and without the help of the Lord and good friends I would not be able to make it. My health has suffered from all this and it worries me that if I get down, then who will take care of him and me.

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